Maggie seeks input from business owners on town’s future

A Thursday meeting with Maggie Valley business owners and area leaders will serve as the first test to see if the valley can successfully come together for the town’s common good.

All business owners in the valley are encouraged to attend at a kick-off meeting Nov. 15 for the creation of a business plan to drive Maggie Valley’s actions. Mayor Ron DeSimone said he wants the plan to act a blueprint for decision-making — something various groups including the board of aldermen can refer to when reviewing zoning laws, figuring out what type of events to host at the festival grounds or deciding what unique aspects of Maggie to advertise.

“You start shaping everything you do to fit that,” DeSimone said.

Like so many towns, the tourism-centric Maggie Valley limped along during the recession as fewer people found the time or money for a vacation. But, even before 2007, the valley struggled as one of its main draws, the amusement park Ghost Town in the Sky, was plagued with ride closures and diminishing visitation.

Now that the economy seems to be on the uptick, Maggie Valley leaders and business owners are trying to figure out how to bring tourists back to the valley — hence the proposed plan.

Unlike attempts in the past, DeSimone said the new plan would be completely business-driven. It will not be crafted by the town board but rather by business owners in the valley.

The town, using a $20,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center, hired consultant Craig Madison, the former president and CEO of the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa. Madison will help facilitate the creation of a plan.

Madison and DeSimone have traveled from business to business talking about their hopes for the planning process and asking people to attend the meeting and offer their individual perspective.

Many business owners live outside the town’s corporate limits and don’t have as much sway as a resident might DeSimone said.

“Here is their chance. They have a say in this,” DeSimone said.

Because of past experiences with so-called business plans, “everyone was a little bit skeptical,” DeSimone said. But, after one-on-one discussions, the mayor said he thinks the meeting will have a good turnout.


Town hall meeting

Maggie Valley business owners are invited to a meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the town hall to kickoff the creation of a collaborative business plan for the valley.

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